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Punishment Park (1971)

 -  Drama | Thriller  -  1980 (West Germany)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 4,015 users  
Reviews: 47 user | 59 critic

"Punishment Park" is a pseudo-documentary purporting to be a film crews's news coverage of the team of soldiers escorting a group of hippies, draft dodgers, and anti-establishment types ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Patrick Boland ...
First Tribunal Defendant
Kent Foreman ...
Defendant in the tribunal
...
Jay Kaufman, Tribunal Defendant
Luke Johnson ...
Defendant in the tribunal
Katherine Quittner ...
Nancy Smith
...
James Arthur Kohler, Tribunal Defendant
Stan Armsted ...
Charles Robbins
Mary Ellen Kleinhall ...
Allison Mitchner
Mark Keats ...
William C. Hoeger, Tribunal Chairman
Gladys Golden ...
Mary Jurgens, Tribunal Member
Sanford Golden ...
Sen. Harris
George Gregory ...
Mr. Keagan
Norman Sinclair ...
Alfred J. Sully - Tribunal Member
Sigmund Rich ...
Prof. Hazlett
Paul Rosenstein ...
Paul Reynolds - Tribunal Member
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Storyline

"Punishment Park" is a pseudo-documentary purporting to be a film crews's news coverage of the team of soldiers escorting a group of hippies, draft dodgers, and anti-establishment types across the desert in a type of capture the flag game. The soldiers vow not to interfere with the rebels' progress and merely shepherd them along to their destination. At that point, having obtained their goal, they will be released. The film crew's coverage is meant to insure that the military's intentions are honorable. As the representatives of the 60's counter-culture get nearer to passing this arbitrary test, the soldiers become increasingly hostile, attempting to force the hippies out of their pacifist behavior. A lot of this film appears improvised and in several scenes real tempers seem to flare as some of the "acting" got overaggressive. This is a interesting exercise in situational ethics. The cinéma vérité style, hand-held camera, and ambiguous demands of the director - would the actors be ... Written by Dick Rockwell <dr1orok@atlas.moa.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

1980 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Büntető park  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Whole movie was filmed using Eclair 16 mm camera. Theather cut and the version for released DVD is been blown up to 35 mm film. See more »

Goofs

In her tribunal closing statement, Alison Mitchner makes reference to the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, and uses the phrase "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". This phrase is in the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. See more »

Quotes

James Arthur Kohler, Tribunal Defendant: My responsibilities as a citizen in this country do not include killing for it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits at all. The title doesn't appear until halfway through the closing credits. See more »

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User Reviews

 
another chillingly accurate depiction of days of future present from Watkins
22 November 2004 | by See all my reviews

You can't watch a film like Peter Watkins' "Privilege," a story of the exploitation of a pop music performer by big business, the state, and even organized religion, without thinking of creatively degenerate commodities like Michael Jackson or Britney Spears, who hawk corporate giants like Pepsi or some other poison for money. Or any number of entertainers, in music or movies, who become tools of political parties or commercial religious interests like Scientology and Kabbalah. A film like Privilege must have seemed almost like science fiction when released in 1967, so fantastic was its premise. Today we tend to take celebrity endorsements for granted, giving little thought to its more alarming implications. Watkins' vision has not only become reality, we tacitly accept this reality as "normal."

Now consider Punishment Park. As Privilege challenges the viewer to examine what is being sold to us, and why, Punishment Park demands that we reckon with what is being taken from us, and why.

Heaven help America, and for that matter the world, if contemporary politicians get their hands on this film. It is already so close to reality, that in viewing it recently, I experienced a genuine, nauseating feeling of anxiety.

Watkins again skillfully employs a documentary-style narrative. Whereas in Privilege some rough edges to this technique were apparent, in Punishment Park it has been honed to sharp, seamless perfection. The sense of realism is enhanced by disarmingly unpretentious, economical, believable portrayals by the entire cast. This is the kind of acting Hollywood has completely turned its back on, to its detriment, in favor of cosmetically perfect image projections. The cast has first-rate material to work with in Watkins' screenplay.

Many cinematic visionaries have tried to shake the viewer out of their complacent, false sense of security. No one has ever achieved this result with such stark and chilling accuracy as Peter Watkins does here.

"What seems quite clear now, is that instead of trying to bring the estranged and excluded Americans, such as these people, back into the national community, the Administration has chosen to accept and exploit the present division within the country, and to side with what it considers is the majority. Instead of the politics of reconciliation, it has chosen the politics of polarization."

To paraphrase one of the characters, we don't have to call them pigs because they know what they are. Better than we do.


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